Plus - Appreciation

Lawyer and statesman who served the people

Al Haj M. A. Bakeer Markar

“One day I will have to answer to my Creator for the things I have done, and for the good things I failed to do whenever He gave me the opportunity.”

Those words would be on the lips of Bakeer Markar when he set out for work every day. That was how God-conscious he was.

Bakeer Markar was a humble man from an elitist background – a rare combination. To him, nothing was more important than serving humanity. His heart would melt when he heard stories of suffering and hardship.

He did not believe in class separation. His friends would be surprised to see “ordinary people”, such as his chauffeur, sitting with him at the dining table.

His belief in the oneness of humanity and the Oneness of God had an effect on those he associated with. I have heard people say how there would be a change of attitude in fellow travellers who spent time with him. Bakeer Markar used to say that “serving God’s creatures was an act of worship in itself”.

Recalling the life and times of his father, Bakeer Markar’s son Imtiaz told me how his father would take sick people to hospital in his car, in the days when transport was hard to come by. And so, when anyone in the neighbourhood had to be taken to hospital, they would, without hesitation, turn to Al Haj Bakeer Markar.

In true Islamic tradition, the doors of Bakeer Markar’s home in Beruwela were always open to both friends and strangers. A steady stream of people would come to seek his help and advice, whether it was to settle a family feud or sort out a business problem. He was a humble man, and associating with the high and mighty of the land only made him humbler. A man’s greatness is gauged by his humility, not by his arrogance. Besides, Al Haj Bakeer Markar was too good a Muslim to even be aware of the existence of such a word as “arrogance”.

When he assumed duties as Speaker of Parliament, he handed over his legal practice to Manilal Fernando with these words: “My clients are the poor and humble people of the land, so please don’t charge them high fees.”

That was the essence of Bakeer Markar – always concerned for the people. Al Haj Bakeer Markar lived an active life as a lawyer and politician, or rather statesman. His was a rich life, dedicated to the well-being of the people and his country.

He was a gentle, mild person, but when it came to a cause close to his heart he was a tireless fighter, never giving up as he fought for justice and fairplay, both for his clients as a lawyer and for his people as their representative in Parliament.

It is these sterling qualities that earned him the admiration and love of his colleagues at the Bar and in Parliament.

Hameed Abdul Karim

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